According to Stacy Wellborn, co-owner and manager of the Container Yard co-working space located on the bottom floor of the Marine Street Lofts, after two years in business plans are in place to expand their footprint — nearly tripling in size — with an announced early 2019 move a few blocks east into Mobile’s Central Business District (CBD), into the former Red Cross building at 853 Dauphin St.
The new site, at the corner of Broad and Dauphin streets, is the western gateway into Mobile’s CBD, which has seen a flurry of commercial activity recently. The building itself is 32,000 square feet, of which the Container Yard reportedly will occupy 7,700 square feet.
“We have seen a nice increase in members since opening. In fact, about nine months ago we expanded our original space in the Marine Street Lofts. We started with 2,700 square feet but about nine months ago, we added an additional 800 square feet. It was filled very quickly,” Wellborn said.
“This project presented itself but we actually looked all around downtown, from St. Louis Street to all over Broad Street. Our goal was to stay east of Ann Street, but primarily in downtown. A top priority for us was to offer our members access to free parking. When the Red Cross building came up, it was ideal,” Wellborn said.
It’s estimated that parking capacity at the former Red Cross site will hold upward of 75 cars. Additional inside space will include 15 new, enclosed 9-foot-by-12-foot private offices as well as a larger conference room.
For those unfamiliar with co-working, the Container Yard offers access to an office environment outside of working from home, at flexible prices. “Whether it’s the traditional private office or somebody who works from home, we offer a place to come during the week or have a place to meet clients,” Wellborn said.
She also said she would like to partner with downtown hotels to offer the Container Yard as an alternative for guests who need use of a full-service business center. “We charge $25 an hour to use our conference room, which is very competitive when compared to standard hotel meeting rates,” Wellborn said.
In addition to the Container Yard, some 35 percent of space (12,000 square feet) will be occupied by a locally owned catering company, Bay Gourmet, currently situated in Mobile’s loop area at 1880 Airport Blvd.
“We mostly do cocktail parties, weddings, rehearsal dinners, a lot of corporate events and nonprofits,” owner Sarah Clark said. The company currently employs around 30, with six working as cooks and the remainder as wait staff. Plans are in place to double in manpower after the move to the new space is completed.
“I have always wanted an event space location and a liquor license. They are two things I’ve gone 17 years without having. After talking to my accountant, I started looking in January of this year. Tony Atchison called me after only looking around downtown for a few weeks. I walked in and it was perfect,” Clark said.
The main event room is 6,200 square feet with 25-foot ceilings. The new kitchen will cover some 1,500 square feet of space. Plans are in place for the remaining footprint to be set aside to build a new restaurant that will serve “superfood” lunches in the afternoon for business traffic, and gourmet samplers in the evening in a cocktail party-style setting for the evening crowd.
“The way it’s going to work is we’ll have the event space in the middle that we will lease for weddings, wine tastings with food pairings and other events. We also want to do a jazz brunch in there. There’s also going to be double roll-up glass garage doors that will face Dauphin Street for LoDa Art Walk. We’d love to have vendors in there with artwork. We want that business corner to improve,” Clark said.
In addition to Bay Gourmet as the main tenant, some 2,000 square feet of retail space is still available for retail tenants. On the second floor, some 7,500 square feet of space will be set aside for five 2-bedroom, 2-bath apartment units that may be leased to tenants and/or set aside as Airbnb travel-sharing space.
Commercial real estate moves
• Local franchisee Curtis Herbig recently closed on the acquisition of a 1-acre parcel of land at 3201 S. McKenzie St. in Foley for construction of the first Culver’s eatery in the area. Work on the site has begun, with opening anticipated in early November 2108. Andrew Dickman with Stirling Properties worked with the restaurant chain to secure the site.
According to an announcement from Culver’s, other restaurants in Alabama are also in the planning stages, but specific locations and timelines have not been determined. Established in 1984, the Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin-based chain reportedly has more than 660 independently owned and operated restaurants in 25 states, including Alabama. Signature menu items include the “ButterBurger” and frozen custard.
• Adam Metcalfe with Metcalfe & Co. recently reported the sale of a 72,000-square-foot industrial warehouse site at 1500 Telegraph Road in Mobile to locally owned Merchant’s Transfer Co., a warehousing and trucking company. Guy Oswalt with JLL worked for the buyer and Metcalfe represented the seller.
• Providence Medical Group recently announced the grand opening and ribbon-cutting of their new 15,000-square-foot outpatient medical park called Ascension Medical Group Providence at Providence Park. Ceremonies will be held Monday, July 16, at 10 a.m. The event is free and open to the public. The new facility is located on the Providence Hospital campus at 6908 Providence Park Drive.
• Montgomery-based Capital Volvo is relocating in the next 60 days from its current 27,000-square-foot space at 3801 Moffett Road to a 40,000-square-foot building on 7 acres at 1814 Berkley Ave. in Mobile. Adam Metcalf managed the lease transaction.
Metcalf also reported the sale of a 5-acre tract of unimproved land on U.S. Route 43 in Saraland to local developers. Plans for development of the property were unknown as of press time.